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Jigger Cruz Solo Exhibition - Resembling Utopia

​Curator: Michela Sena

2023.3.20 - 4.30

Hong Kong Central Space


Resembling Utopia declares not just the new solo exhibition of celebrated Filipino artist Jigger Cruz, but a new internal journey towards the unknown. Like an adventurer driven solely by his hunger for knowledge, who navigates instinctively without a plan, this new series by Jigger Cruz represents a whole new expedition into an intimate dimension – a place where in losing himself, he would find the most freedom in “perception”.


As Jigger Cruz observes in his painting process, “my painting is increasingly getting lost, eventually outgrowing itself beyond the conventional categorization of a “painting”. These paintings would break away from the timeline of my everyday life; while me myself, as a normal human being, also forgets about the limits of being an artist along this exploration”.


Jigger Cruz, a contemporary Ulysses – a  symbol  of wisdom and acumen for his ability to see through the dark – seeks knowledge perpetually to broaden his own vision as well as to eclipse beyond the conventional.


Challenging the painting material itself, he paints with the aim of creating an object and not to represent a subject. The purpose of his art is not to recreate reality, but to transform it into something more intriguing. His abstract compositions are characterized by decisive, confident strokes to create a rough and thick three-dimensional surface that meets in a grid of colored lines – like a nervous tangle. Strips of color overlap, travel parallel or intertwine as pushed by the artist’s strong gestural brushwork.


Reorienting his stylistic methodologies again, Jigger Cruz’s color palette has returned to bold, vivid colors, succeeding  his transitional phase of the greyer tones that characterized the works of his previous years. We are back to the notion of strength, to the energy of pure vitality, to the ecstasy the artist sources by accessing that intimate pre-logic dimension he digs into when attempting to create a new work.


Jigger Cruz’s painting process is a whole operation of challenging the boundaries of linear perception. He endeavours to overcome the conventional coding of reality – the stage where we use our senses and our memory to perceive the natural world in a generally agreed way. This level of perception and memory, even if conventional, is not enough for an artist like Jigger Cruz. He ventures to surpass the limits of the factual and embraces a wider, unlimited dimension, where the artist’s perception opens up harmlessly to any kind of stimulus or feeling. And this totalizing perception, precisely, is what inspired him to paint.


The action of painting is thus rational and unplanned at the same time. It comes from Jigger Cruz’ hands and unique sensibility. Still, suprises would appear here and there in his canvases, never to be repeated by the artist as he explores continually and spontaneously. He masterfully blends random memories and feelings with his colors and gestures on the canvas, to create powerful, vivid abstract compositions. His unique, idealised interpretations of the inner paradise hence become strong masterpieces plucked straight out of his imagination.


In reconfiguring his intimate perception with the utilization of a stunning rich colour palette, he applies a distortion of images whenever figurative elements want to emerge, giving it a new lease of life. The random and near-realistic elements add a touch of surreal to his compositions and distort even more our ordinary perception of the reality, giving new meaning, intention and feeling to subjects that would otherwise be familiar to the eye. He warps our sense of reality to create artworks that sit on the boundary between what we know and what we can only sense.


This new series of work is the fruit of Jigger Cruz’s more mature stage; vibrant, still enjoyable, if not ever-more enchanting. This latest corpus of works communicates the confidence in the psychological freedom and artistic power of Jigger Cruz – one of the most critical interpreters of our times.


Tremulous Delights Oil on canvas 183 x 153 cm 2023

Circadian Sacreds Oil on canvas 183 x 153 cm 2023

Molecular Paradise Oil on canvas 153 x 122 cm 2023

Miscalculation Illusions Oil on canvas 153 x 122 cm 2023

Down Alleyways of Dream Oil on canvas 153 x 122 cm 2023

Tropical Syndrome Oil on canvas 153 x 122 cm 2023

Lost Metaphor in Visual Orgasm Oil on canvas 78 x 63 cm 2023

Paradise Reconstruction Oil on canvas 78 x 63 cm 2023

Aching Hungry Mind Oil on canvas 78 x 63 cm 2023

The Mystic Blossoms of Gray and White Oil on canvas 78 x 63 cm 2023

Dawn of Rainbow Ingestion Oil on canvas 78 x 63 cm 2023

Failed Fortress Horizon Oil on canvas 78 x 63 cm 2023

Spoiled Bells on Its Way Oil on canvas 78 x 63 cm 2023


Jigger Cruz

b. 1984, Philippines


Jigger Cruz graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Far Eastern University, Manila and also trained at the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde before pursuing a full-time career as a painter. The artist has been listed in international auction houses around the world, and has exhibited in both solo and group shows locally and internationally, from the Philippines to Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Austria, and the United States. His work can be found in multiple public collections, including: The Dikeou Collection, Denver, CO, USA; Guggenheim Museum, NY, USA; and Saatchi Collection, London, UK.


Cruz’s art practice is characterized by his idea to play with defacement and vandalization, making use of oil colour, spray paint and rough interventions directly on the canvases, which is sometimes burned and, in some cases, even to cut. Each artwork is created by the artist from a canvas previously painted, where he copied the Flemish and Post-Renaissance masters. Apparently without a logical scheme, Cruz applies layer by layer the dense oil colour, not only hiding, rather mystifying the classical backdrop. In this way the artist explores, through his artworks, the deep relationship between the canvas and its meaning, past and present, figuration and abstraction. The figures of the classical paintings that transpire below, remind the viewer of the painstaking pictorial activity and the artistic historical baggage of the contemporary painter.


Michela Sena

b. 1976


Michela Sena is a Rome-Bangkok-based curator and art critic. Her research relates partly to the potential of global language and the relationship and dialogue between contemporary artists coming from different territories. After she graduated in museology and art history at Roma Tre University and got a Chinese language degree at SISU Shanghai Foreign Studies University, she was Director of Primo Marella Gallery Beijing and Director of Tang Contemporary Art Bangkok. She curated a wide number of shows proposing a punctual snapshot of contemporary art research, developing in recent years a focus on Chinese and southeast Asian art.

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